ON THE BEAT: Old Dominion

Norfolk Virginian-Pilot beat writer Harry Minium spoke with Pack Pride about the Wolfpack's next opponent, Old Dominion. Minium talked about the team's strengths, weaknesses, and much more in this exclusive interview.

Norfolk Virginian-Pilot beat writer Harry Minium spoke with Pack Pride about the Wolfpack's next opponent, Old Dominion. Minium talked about the team's strengths, weaknesses, and much more in this exclusive interview.

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There has been a lot of talk this week about Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke. Can you break down his game?
His greatest strength is intelligence. He's really smart.

They run the spread offense, and he'll have four or five options that he can call at the line. He can check out of any play that he wants, and he's really good at that.

He also has a very strong arm on short passes... 10-to-20 yards. Now, his arm isn't as strong on the deeper throws.

He is also difficult to bring down because he's so deep in the backfield when he takes the shotgun snap, and he's very fast. He's elusive but not really big... about 6-foot, 213 pounds. That's probably why he's not considered a strong NFL prospect.

How did he fare against Hampton?
He didn't have a great game against Hampton.

There are a number of reasons for that. Mainly, ODU has a lot of young wideouts. They lost four wideouts in the offseason... one to graduation and three others were kicked off the team, including their top receiver, Larry Pinkard. Because of that, Taylor is dealing with new wideouts that he doesn't know very well.

Also, against NC State four of the five starters on offense will be new. They lost three from last year's team and another will miss the game with an injury.

Overall, they are struggling a little on offense. They scored 41 points in the opener, but they were not playing an ACC school.

It sounds like the weaknesses are inexperience and cohesiveness on offense.
Cohesiveness is a great word to describe it.

The passing game was out of sync and the coach put it on Heinicke and the wide receivers. It seemed like he had seven or eight seconds int he pocket and still didn't really have anyone to throw to.

Talk about the rushing game.
They are trying to run the ball more than in the past. Their running game traditionally is not very good.

Gerard Johnson, he ran hard against Hampton. They'll run it more, but it's the passing game they will live or die with.

Is it accurate to say that the defense is expected to be a weakness?
It's been their weak point for years. Last year they ended the season with 80 points to North Carolina, but they had a lot of injuries last year. At times their defense had moments... they gave up 35 at Pittsburgh, which for them, that's good against an ACC opponent.

I believe their problems in the past have been coaching and personnel, but now it's more of a matter of personnel. They've recruited better players in the last couple of years and have some young kids, but they just don't have enough of them.

They had six sacks against Hampton so they were able to get a pass rush, but their linebacker coverage wasn't very good and they didn't have better coverage in the secondary.

I'd be surprised if NC State doesn't score a lot of points.

How are their special teams?
Inexperienced.

They were awful against Hampton. Those are Bobby Wallace's words. They were terrible.

They had three kickoffs returned to the 40 or 50-yard line. Their punter had a short kick. They missed an extra point and didn't return kickoffs. It wasn't a very good day for them.

It's mainly because they are using true freshmen and redshirt freshmen on special teams. It's just going to take a while for them.

What type of a feeling did you get from the team this week? Did you get the sense that they believe they can win?
The vibe I got from the players was they are going to be playing in front of a big crowd, and it's going to be a big deal being on ESPN3 against an ACC school. That's not something they get to do very often. It's a huge deal for them.

They think they can win, but if you don't think you can win and go play a football game you're going to get smashed.

Today they said all pressure is on NC State and they have nothing to lose. They really don't.


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